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Kevin VanDam's 11th B.A.S.S. Tournament Victory

More with Kevin VanDam

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: On the last weekend in April, 2007, even with one day cancelled due to bad weather at the B.A.S.S. Elite Series Tournament at Lake Guntersville in Alabama, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, pulled off a win, earning $100,000. This year’s win was VanDam’s 11th B.A.S.S. Tournament victory and his 67th, top-10 career finish. This week, we’ll look at how VanDam found and caught the bass, lost the fish and relocated them to win the tournament. You’ll see the strategy that’s required to win a big-league bass tournament, and how to apply techniques to win like a pro.

Question: Kevin, your secret to winning this tournament seemed to be using Strike King spinner baits and crankbaits and your ability to adjust to changing conditions.
VanDam: One of the biggest advantages I enjoyed was that Lake Guntersville was like many of my home lakes I fished in Michigan. I fish a lot of milfoil lines and crank the edges of grass lines in Michigan. I’ve fished this way for many years, and I fish plenty of grass, which is why I’ve done so well over the years.

Question: Did you use any bait besides the spinner bait and the crankbait?
VanDam: Yes, I did. I also fished with Strike King’s Pure Poison. I caught most of the bass on the Strike King spinner bait and the Series 5 crankbait, but I Click to enlarge caught two keeper-sized bass on the Pure Poison. I alternated fishing between the spinner bait and the crankbait, but when I located a school of bass holding in thick grass, I’d cast the Pure Poison to show the bass something different and to get them to strike.

Question: Did you fish the Pure Poison on top of the water, or did you run it deep?
VanDam: I fished it deep and with the same technique I’d used with the spinner bait in the grass.

Question: Why did you think the Pure Poison would work?
VanDam: Pure Poison gives off a lot of vibration. When bass are buried in the grass, I think they can hear the vibration, so they’ll come up to take the bait.

Question: Were most of the other competitors using spinner baits?
VanDam: Yes, they were fishing spinner baits on the edges of grass on the main lake. I fished the Pure Poison to give the bass something new to see.Click to enlarge

Question: Kevin, what does this win mean to you?
VanDam: Winning this tournament is a really-big deal. Winning any tournament when I’m fishing against the best fishermen in the world is a major accomplishment. Although the Elite Series has been going on for about 1-1/2-years, I hadn’t won one yet. I felt good winning.

Question: What rod-and-reel combinations were you using?
VanDam: I fished all Quantum rods and reels. I used the Kevin VanDam Signature Series rod with a 6.3:1 reel, both in the Quantum Tour Editions PT series. I used 20-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Signature Series Monofilament line with the spinner bait. With the crankbait, I used a Tour Edition Quantum rod and a 5.1:1 Quantum Energy PT reel with 17-pound-test fluorocarbon line. I liked this line because it had less stretch, so I got a better feel and could rip the crankbait out of the grass better.

Question: Kevin, did you ever change-up colors on your crankbait or your spinner bait?
VanDam: I stayed with shad patterns mostly, although I did throw a chartreuse blue-backed crankbait to show the bass a different-colored lure. I did catch a few bass on this color bait. However, my primary crankbait was the Sexy Shad color, which is similar to the Tennessee Shad color. Click to enlarge

Question: Kevin, did you talk to any other fishermen about where or how to fish this tournament before you arrived at the lake?
VanDam: No, I didn’t. I’ve learned to rely on my own ability to catch bass.

Question: How important was your GPS?
VanDam: My most-important pieces of equipment were my Lowrance X26 with a built-in GPS receiver, because the GPS helped me return to the exact location where I’d caught bass before, and the depth finder within the X26 allowed me to locate subtle changes in the grass. The other piece of equipment that worked well was the BioSonics. This unit really got the shad excited, which made the bass excited. When I caught bass on a spinner bait on a sunny, windless day, I knew the BioSonics was doing a good job for me.

Question: Kevin, when you mark a spot as a waypoint with your GPS, are you marking the area where you’ve caught the bass, or are you marking your boat’s location?
VanDam: I mark the boat’s location, but I still use landmarks on the bank to help me line-up correctly on the bass to make the best cast and catch bass. Because my GPS is tied to electronics, and I never know if or when the electronics will stop working, landmarks as well as GPS waypoints are extremely-important while lining-up on a spot to catch bass.

Question: Kevin, what are you going to do with the $100,000 you just won?
VanDam: There are a lot of expenses out here on the tour that most people don’t know about. To fish the entire season, I’ll probably spend more than $100,000. This win should cover most of my expenses for the year, so now I can fish for a payday.

Check back each day this week for more about "Kevin VanDam's 11th B.A.S.S. Tournament Victory"

Day 1: Pre-Practice at Lake Guntersville
Day 2: Day One of the B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament
Day 3: Day Two of the B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament
Day 4: The Final Day
Day 5: More with Kevin VanDam



Entry 405, Day 5